A few weeks ago I was talking about the epidemic of violence, aggression and disrespect which, in my opinion, plagues this society. A social problem that is often seen in sport (insults, threats, aggressions …), television, our day-to-day lives and, unfortunately, also in schools.
Last week we heard the latest terrible l news- Lucia, a girl of only thirteen, took her own life in Murcia after, as her parents said, being unable to endure the harassment that she was being subjected to by her high school classmates. Today I want to speak directly to students, children and young people. In all of the talks and conferences I have given, I always speak about the importance of empathy, of not doing what you would not like to be done to you, both physically and over the telephone or the internet. I always say that, around us there may well be someone who might take his own life due to what many students consider to be a «simple joke» or something that is «no big deal» . I always say, if every student in a class disrespects one classmate by making one nasty comment and the person who is being verbally attacked receives countless insults, when all put together, they make a bad situation unbearable. Every little insult or disrespectful comment which individually may seem harmless, as a whole have created a a nightmare scenario for the victim.
It is time to end this. The time has come to take action. It is inadmissible that this spiral of hate and aggression continues to grow. It is inadmissible that what happened to Lucia can ever happen again. And, a fundamental part of the solution lies in education – teaching respect, raising students’ awareness that what one might find funny or consider a joke may not be for others. We must foster empathy in our school children.
A shining example of changing people´s attitudes can be found in Finland, which in 2007 developed an anti-harassment programme called KiVa. This programme , created at the University of Turku, has already been implemented in more than 90% of Finnish educational centres and has been exported to almost a dozen countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy or the United States. KiVa aims to prevent harassment as well as training parents, teachers and students on how to act immediately if a case of bullying occurs.
Enough of the breast- beating and let´s do something to change the problem of bullying.. We have to stop looking for excuses to avoid or silence the problem and start looking for solutions. Enough of violence, in any form, in sport, in society, in the education system. Let’s get rid of the trite phrase «It’s no big deal, it´s just what children have always done in the playground», and we’ll be closer to real change.
Let us all join forces with public institutions, teachers, psychologists, pedagogues, lawyers and students, and let’s get down to work to create a law that ends this scourge on our society.
Because if we don´t, it will all end with us mourning another victim.